Mark Parker was nervous when he walked into his job interview at Karl Storz Imaging nearly 14 months ago. Now he’s part of the family.
“The interview processes I had before, I had five interviews that year before I came on board. I was like all nervous and being awkward but this one in particular … for some reason it was more natural, more relaxed. It was like I was able to be myself,” Mr. Parker said during a Monday interview at the Karl Storz Imaging design and manufacturing facility in Goleta.
Karl Storz produces cameras and video equipment for hospitals. The products are used in surgeries and other medical applications.
The company and Mr. Parker, who is on the autism spectrum, were honored by Mayor Cathy Murillo during the 14th annual Mayor’s Awards last week for celebrating the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices.
Rick Spitzer, director of Technical Services and Facilities at Karl Storz, said disability advocacy group PathPoint helped connect him with Mr. Parker.
Mr. Spitzer said the company was originally looking for a day porter to clean the break rooms and do other basic maintenance, but Mr. Parker’s work history revealed he had extensive experience working in lab environments. After the interview Mr. Parker was offered a job as a facilities assistant.
“I was a maintenance assistant at DuPont Displays, AMOC Testing, UCSB. I started off as a lab assistant at UCSB, City College. I was working at the DuPont that got shut down, so they gave me a job as a maintenance assistant checking fire extinguishers, safety showers, emergency lights,” said Mr. Parker.
Mr. Spitzer said that experience gave Mr. Parker the expertise to help manage waste streams from the Karl Storz production line.
“Things like chemwipes, Q-tips with a bit of epoxy on them, those things can’t just be thrown in the trash. The job entails ensuring that the materials that are gathered are moved into the right containers, so the right contractor gets the right material and you have to inventory that, so we know the volumes that we’re sending out,” Mr. Spitzer said.
Mr. Parker helps ensure fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in the proper location and working property. He also does other odd jobs and projects with five other facilities personnel.
“Some duties I do on my own, like in the production and in the break room; wipe down tables, chairs, restock supplies. There are others on the list that I collaborate on,” said Mr. Parker.
“We’ve moved from an over 50,000 square foot building to now twice that size. We needed additional help to do things like move equipment, mount benches and racks. Mark is a physical guy and he was a natural for that role,” said Mr. Spitzer.
Mr. Parker said that the Karl Storz community has embraced him, supported his interest in astronomy and put him in a position to succeed at his job.
“This position is a part-time position. But although he’s in a part-time position he’s full-time family. There’s a level of comfortableness and Mark’s disability, if you want to call it that … we don’t look at it in those terms. We maximize what he can do and set him up for success in the best way that we can,” Mr. Spitzer said.